Supergiant fast X-ray transients as an under-luminous class of supergiant X-ray binaries

E. Bozzo, P. Romano, L. Ducci, F. Bernardini, M. Falanga

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The usage of cumulative luminosity distributions, constructed thanks to the long-term observations available through wide field hard X-ray imagers, has been recently exploited to study the averaged high energy emission (>17 keV) from supergiant fast X-ray transients (SFXTs) and classical Supergiant High Mass X-ray Binaries (SgXBs). Here, we take advantage of the long term monitorings now available with Swift/XRT to construct for the first time the cumulative luminosity distributions of a number of SFXTs and the classical SgXB IGR J18027-2016 in the soft X-ray domain with a high sensitivity focusing X-ray telescope (0.3-10 keV). By complementing previous results obtained in the hard X-rays, we found that classical SgXBs are characterized by cumulative distributions with a single knee around ∼10 36 -10 37 erg s -1 , while SFXTs are found to be systematically sub-luminous and their distributions are shifted at significantly lower luminosities (a factor of ∼10-100). As the luminosity states in which these sources spend most of their time are typically below the sensitivity limit of large field of view hard X-ray imagers, we conclude that soft X-ray monitorings carried out with high sensitivity telescopes are particularly crucial to reconstruct the complete profile of the SFXT cumulative luminosity distributions. The difference between the cumulative luminosity distributions of classical SgXBs and SFXTs is interpreted in terms of accretion from a structured wind in the former sources and the presence of magnetic/centrifugal gates or a quasi-spherical settling accretion regime in the latter.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1255-1263
    Number of pages9
    JournalAdvances in Space Research
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Feb 15 2015


    • Accretion
    • High mass X-ray binaries
    • IGR J18027-2016
    • Neutron star
    • X-ray binaries

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Geophysics
    • Atmospheric Science
    • Space and Planetary Science
    • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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